Iraqis began voting yesterday to choose their first permanent government since Saddam’s fall. A couple of hours ago, I was on a conference call with a senior Defense Department official speaking from Baghdad. He said that yesterday, about 140,000 members of the Iraqi Security Forces voted, as did 90% of the detainees. (No word on if Saddam voted, though he will be allowed to.) The other Iraqi Security Forces will vote today and tomorrow, enabling them to be on duty on Thursday.
Long lines at polling places are anticipated. In the constitutional referendum in September, it was a simple up or down vote. The ballot this time is four pages long, with a huge variety of combinations of candidates and coalitions. I’ve seen it: to me it looks like an IRS form (that statement is not impeached by the fact the ballot is printed in Arabic). It will take a long time for people to vote. Security at the polls is a very big concern, as is voter fraud.
American forces anticipate some big move by Zarqawi and al-Qaeda. They can’t let this pass without some action or they will be seen as irrelevant. Stay tuned.
Perhaps the worst news is that Sen. Biden is coming to observe the election. I’m sure he’ll be a tremendous help.